There is nothing like a road trip to take away the pre-winter blues.

And when that road trip is with seven of your daughter's classmates, eight in a van is never going to be a peaceful, easy feeling as promised by the Eagles.

Along with the other six big buses full of whanau and a flotilla of planes, trains and cars carrying over 300 from Tauranga Moana, we were rocking and rolling down the Desert Rd, heading to Parliament, singing songs and carrying signs, ready to march with the United Tribes of Tauranga Moana.

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"So what was all this Hauraki hoo-ha all about?" My mates were asking before we left, and even more so after we returned from our hīkoi to Parliament.

In a pipi shell, our kids' sign they carried on the march said it all: "Mana B4 Money".

This was a pushback from what was perceived and believed by tangata whenua of Tauranga Moana - made up of three tribes or iwi (Ngāti Ranginui, Ngāiterangi and Ngāti Pūkenga) - against our neighbours up State Highway 3 in the isthmus of Hauraki who are trying to get a toehold into Tauranga via the cross-claims process of the Treaty settlement they are about to sign.

Hīkoi participants perform a haka outside parliament. Photo/supplied
Hīkoi participants perform a haka outside parliament. Photo/supplied

Without picking apart the whole whakapapa or genealogical genesis of historical grievances that have occurred between neighbouring iwi, what was more important for me and why I took our tamariki on our road trip was to witness history in the making when the three iwi of Tauranga Moana became united by a common cause.

Sure, there are issues that need to resolved, and yes, there will be some tough talking, gestures of utu and even the odd call to war as there was on the steps of Parliament last Tuesday. However, the sea change of kotahitanga, or united people, that marched was something no one can take away and something we can build on long after the bricks and mortar of who gets what are settled.

History tells us when we come together we grow stronger and when we are divided we fall, you only have to look over the Kaimai to see how other iwi are prospering.

The conversations along the hīkoi from the railway station up to the steps of Parliament were equally as rewarding as the kōrero I listened to from both sides of the paepae (speaking platform) once we arrived. Clearly, there is a genuine desire by parents I spoke to for our kids to see the three iwi coming together at every opportunity, not just on protest marches.

I guess it is why I have a heart for the Tauranga Moana Community Centre down on The Strand built by our grandfathers to bring us together. For them, it was, and still is for many of us today, all about Mana B4 Money.


When I look at where our first ever Whare 4 Whānau homeless oasis was opened - right next to that community centre - it was all about Mana B4 Money for the Tauranga Moana Trust, who gifted the property to us on a year-by-year basis as a koha back to the community.

It has always felt like our ancestors are with us when we work with the homeless in our first whare, one of 14 we now have across the motu.

This koha is the essence of true leadership and a huge feather in the korowai of kotahitanga (unity).

So what stops this korowai of unity covering our people?

In my opinion, the answer is: No different to what stops a community uniting in a western world context.

It is all about leadership and those who have their hands on the levers of power letting go for a greater common cause. You only have to look at the leadership of the largest countries on the planet to see mana munching and power broking happening right in front of us on the six o'clock news.

When we look back in a hundred full moons - long after the spoils of our settlement have been spent by lawyers and lever holding leaders - what will we have learned? What will be the legacy we leave our tamariki and what will they remember about why we marched on Parliament on a rainy day in May of 2018?

I hope that it will be all about how mana is the currency we should measure success by, not money, and hopefully, it will be about how Hauraki brought us together and made us stronger and richer in things far more important than bricks and mortar.

Most of all that our road trip down to the steps of Parliament was the very day tangata whenua of Tauranga Moana became the united tribes our ancestors dreamed we could be. Tommy Wilson is a best-selling author and local writer.